March 20 marked the first day of Spring, but its true arrival still seems to be a question in the minds of many. Snow is falling as I submit this column to be published in just a few days when the forecast is for 80 degrees. In a word, wow! We have been on quite the spring roller coaster ride for weeks. Despite this very cold spring, things are changing albeit ever so slowly. The captivating transition from gray to numerous shades of green throughout the countryside also influences our choices in wardrobe, food and wine. Spring gardens bring tender leafy greens, brilliant carrots, beets, pea, asparagus and strawberries. These new fruits and veggies gradually inspire us to try some new wine styles to match their delicate flavors. There are many options to explore, so here are a few suggestions to consider as you build your spring wine cellar.
Grüner Veltliner, a white variety grown primarily in Austria, is dry, crisp and clean. It has classic flavors of fresh limes, lemon and granny smith apple with a hint of white pepper spice. Grüner Veltliner is a particularly good match for asparagus which is notoriously difficult to pair with wine due to its chemical make-up that gives it a very vegetal flavor profile. As a result, it also makes some wines taste vegetal or too grassy, but Grüner is just crisp and green enough to balance out the flavors.
White Bordeaux, usually a blend dominated by Sauvignon Blanc, followed by Semillon and sometimes lesser amounts of the minor grape, Muscadelle. Overall, this blend offers lively aromas and clean flavors of lemon, lime, peaches and light green herbs with plenty of bright acidity. This juicy dry style is a great match for spring salads or fresh strawberries alongside a cheese plate.
Rosé and more specifically Elk Cove 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, OR. It just wouldn’t be spring if I didn’t recommend a dry rosé. This is the time of year when all the new releases are hitting the market and this one just arrived. It has hints of ripe cherry, strawberry, subtle notes of rose petals and nectarine leading to fresh acidity and a touch of lime zest. It has enough weight and structure to pair with grilled spring lamb or wild salmon.
Beaujolais from France is a delightful red option made from the Gamay grape. Without talking specific villages, it is generally both floral and fruity with flavors of raspberries, cherries and subtle pepper spice. Light to medium bodied and low tannins make it an excellent partner with a morel mushroom risotto.
Much like wine, spring invokes a sense of free expression and adventure, so get to exploring! Cheers and Happy Spring!